Breezy tunes from a star of Sydney's club scene.
From the outside, it might seem like Melbourne has the lion's share of talent in the Australian club music game, thanks to a large proportion of artists who have made a name for themselves overseas. Sydney, though, has a long (but perhaps less visible) legacy of maintaining a high standard of local DJs, people committed solely to the art of spinning records. Adi Toohey is one of those artists who, gig by gig, year by year, has cultivated a reputation as one of the city's—and the country's—most reliable party starters on the underground circuit. Through a long stint of working at Sydney's search engine-unfriendly The Record Store, throwing fantastically fun and friendly parties with her friends at Rimbombo, and hosting a much-loved Saturday night show since 2014 on vital community station FBi Radio, she's dedicated countless hours to honing her craft, and the results speak for themselves. Her unpretentious style, which has a strong foundation in '90s house, has found her being tapped for podcasts by Bicep and Vancouver's Mood Hut crew, who called her their "favourite DJ from Sydney."
On RA.672, Toohey joins the dots between sunny afternoon drinks and the dance floor. From the breezy cocktail beats of the opening stretch through colourful '90s vocal cuts, hip house and some acid gems, it's a perfect primer for a night out.
What have you been up to recently?
Life has been busy! I've been trying to find a balance between all the elements of my life while staying sane and healthy. I've been working full-time as a high school teacher, hosting my weekly radio show on FBi Radio on Saturday nights, playing gigs around town and flying interstate every few weekends for club shows and festivals. Some highlights of the past few months would be Hopkins Creek, Strawberry Fields and most recently Pitch Music And Arts Festival.
I've also been DJing and hosting gigs as Rimbombo with the Ken Oath Records boys DJ Earl Grey and James Greville, which is always inspiring after playing solo. Shout out to C.K from Regelbau for making the last one so special.
How and where was the mix recorded?
I recorded the mix at home in Sydney's Inner West with a cup of tea, 2 x Technics 1200s, 2 x CDJ900s and my Lucia mixer from Condesa Electronics. The recording glitched on the first take so this is the refined 2.0 version!
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
I think it's a fair representation of the range of music that I've been playing lately—there's a few slower hip-hop/soul openers, then a heap of '90s dollar-bin house and an electro bent finish. Since (reluctantly) quitting my job at The Record Store in Darlinghurst I've had the opportunity to go record shopping most weekends, both there and at some other joints like Papa Disquo in Enmore and Network Connection in Newtown, so this mix has been brewing out of those finds for a while now.
What draws you to the late '80s and early '90s era?
A few trips to the record stores of NYC in my early 20s really gave me the bug for house from the '80s and '90s. I'm attracted by the sheer volume of material that was released at that time; you can always stumble across something you’ve never seen or heard before. Besides that, there’s a sense of fun in the samples that matches how I want people to be feeling on a dance floor.
How do you find being a DJ in Sydney, given the city's oppressive nightlife conditions in recent years?
There's no point trying to understate the utter corruption and short-sightedness of the lockouts and new festival laws operating in Sydney. They've blocked so many opportunities for people in all different aspects of the nightlife industry.
That said, Sydney has always had a healthy warehouse and alternative venue scene, and promoters will always find ways to get people together in front of a soundsystem, whether it's under a bridge, in an alley or on top of a carpark. Playing or attending those one-off gigs is a really special, community-minded feeling and it restores everyone's faith in the city for a little while. I'm also lucky enough to have a regular serve of gigs at legal city venues like Freda's and Harpoon Harry.
What are you up to next?
I'm excited to be heading over to Europe in July to play a few shows, go digging and work on my German. Still a few dates open from late June to mid-July if anyone wants to get in touch! On my return to Sydney, I'll be celebrating five years of hosting my show on our little community radio haven, FBi Radio, with a few local faves at Freda's in Chippendale.